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On Becoming Cultural Hinges

Daisy Rosales is a Noonday Ambassador living in Pasadena, California. In addition to gushing about Noonday, she is a marketer, blogger, wanderluster, and gatherer of amazing women in her community. She lives with her husband and a houseful of plants, and tries to perfect the art of latte drinking in her spare time. Head over to her blog, Simplicity Relished, for style and adventure.

One of my favorite aspects of travel is the opportunity to explore in the midst of a culture very different from my own. Stepping onto a plane in Los Angeles means leaving an already diverse—and culturally unique—city for a place that is almost nothing like it. And while naïve mistakes in translation are inevitable, the chance to move and breathe in someone else’s home base is an experience worth its weight in humility.

When we step into someone else’s culture, language, art forms, mannerisms and meanings, we connect. And when we return to our own contexts with new perspectives, we act as bridges to those cultures for our own communities. It is exciting to return from travel with stories of what we’ve seen and heard on our adventures—whether to inspire laughter, action, or reflection.

But cultural bridges are built not only to expand our own horizons and quench our thirst for adventure; we also build them in the process of building a flourishing world. In fact, we do more than build bridges—we become cultural hinges, flexible, adaptable, and willing to turn our heads and hearts toward others. We make it possible to open new doors.

In one way or another, we are all cultural hinges: whether it’s connecting the culture of our old neighborhood to our new one; connecting friends from different contexts; connecting our childhood family culture to marriage and families of our own.

In the Noonday community, there are so many opportunities for people to become cultural hinges—from the Ambassadors who connect women at their Trunk Show to each other and to women across the globe to the Artisan Business Leaders who connect their cultures’ crafts to an international market. When we become cultural hinges, we truly can say, “we are connected.” In order to create a marketplace for women and men around the world who are coming out of poverty, all of us must link arms. And we link arms boldly yet humbly, both fastening ourselves in faithfulness and holding ourselves loosely as we participate in the transformation, too.

Visiting our Artisan Partners in Guatemala this summer made this so very clear to me. The magic of our connection is made possible by everyone willing to stand in the gaps between cultures, becoming those very hinges that open new doors of opportunity.

In our Artisan Partner workshops in Guatemala, opportunity is created for women who, as members of an indigenous culture, are especially vulnerable to poverty. As needles zip between beads, yarn writhes in a bath of vibrant vegetable dye, and shuttles fly between the strands of a back strap loom, Tzutujil is spoken in its quiet, rapid timbre. The older generations, who learned to embroider by the age of nine, lend their dexterity to making our beautiful jewelry and scarves.

But someone has to stand between their world and ours as we weave our worlds together. Our Artisan Business Partners, who employ vulnerable people in their communities and connect them to buyers like Noonday, play this role. They become cultural hinges, turning their hearts toward their community to unlock its potential, while also facing Noonday as savvy partners in business. Imagine the fluency needed throughout this supply chain, as handiwork passes from the home of a Mayan woman to the home of a Trunk Show Hostess. As Noonday’s Ambassadors stand in the miles between the U.S. and our partners’ countries, we turn Noonday’s vision into sales that make that vision possible.

Perhaps it can seem more advantageous to build a world where culture and language is common to all, but we have our differences to thank for the creativity and vibrancy of our jewelry. When we partner with communities different from our own, we bring together perspectives, traditions, and ideas to create something that homogeneity cannot. Part of what it means to flourish is to own these differences, and to choose to become hinges that connect diverse places of belonging.

Whether you’ve traveled to visit our partners or not, I hope you know what a crucial role you play in linking communities together. We are hinges—not between strangers, but between friends. And together we unleash the passion and potential of communities everywhere.